After a year of decline, South Korea’s foreigner-only casinos have rebounded in 2016.
Data from the National Gambling Control Commission showed that the sector’s combined sales climbed 2.6 percent in 2016 to reach KRW1.28 trillion (US$1.14 billion).
For the third year in a row, Kangwon Land sales continue to outstrip the combined sales of the foreigner-only sector. Kangwon Land, the only gaming venue in which South Koreans are allowed to gamble, saw its sales rise to 4.3 percent year-on-year to reach KRW1.63 trillion last year.
The country had 17 casinos in 2016, including Kangwon Land.
This year, South Korea launched its first major integrated resort casino—Paradise City. The glitzy $1.1 billion Paradise City, the first Las Vegas-style integrated resort in Northeast Asia, opened on Yeongjong Island on April 20, amid concerns that it may become the latest victim of Beijing’s ire following South Korea’s decision to install an anti-missile battery.
Aside from Paradise City, casino operator Paradise Co Ltd. operates three other foreigner-only casinos: Walkerhill in Seoul, Jeju Grand on Jeju Island, and Busan Casino in the southern port city of Busan. Paradise Ciy is a joint venture of Paradise Co and Japanese pachinko operator Sega Sammy Holdings.
Including foreigner-only casinos and Kangwon Land, the total gaming sector sales in South Korea reached KRW2.9 trillion in 2016, according to the government data.
A recent study of the National Gambling Control Commission data showed that the government of South Korea has earned more than $54 billion from gambling in the past 15 years. The biggest slice of the government’s gambling take came via horseracing, which accounted for 37.5 percent of the total. Lottery operations ranked second with a 25.4 percent share, while casinos claimed 12.3 percent. The remainder was split between South Korea’s only other legal forms of gambling: cycling and boat racing, sports betting and bull fighting.